With new reports emerging that the bizarrely common practice of eating placenta after childbirth may have negative side effects on your health — who could have seen that coming? – the media-sphere has been asking the ago old question: what does human flesh taste like? Before you continue reading this article I do warn that it discusses visceral themes that may make you consider swapping to a vegetarian diet and will definitely kill your appetite. I do not recommend reading this whilst eating.
Whilst those who engage in “placentophagy” describe it as a similar texture and taste to liver, there have been a wide range of sources across history that deliver contradicting summations of what we are supposed to taste like. Previous scams involving “human restaurants” likened our meat to that of “sweet, soft beef”, despite others insisting we are more similar to pork. The latter was corroborated by a robot with an acute sense of taste designed to be used as an electric sommelier, which identified human flesh as bacon and prosciutto.
Although that might seem delicious, there is something unnerving about the idea that we may all have tasted human before – albeit as pork. Infamous German cannibal Armin Meiwes who consumed over twenty kilos of his victim also put credence behind that assessment:
“The flesh tastes like pork, a little bit more bitter, stronger. It tastes quite good.”
In the 1920s, New York Times journalist William Buehler Seabrook became so obsessed in finding out the mystery behind this question he convinced a medical intern at Paris’ famed Sorbonne University to let him take a sample of human flesh from a cadaver to test his hypothesis. He described it in his notes as tasting of veal. This description is contradicted by the testimonials of a range of cannibals who terrorized Western Europe during that same time who described it as pork, and even sold it on the black market as such.
The consensus, based on all accounts, seems to point towards humans tasting like pork. Whilst that is incredibly grim to think about for too long (seriously, don’t), it is a part of anthropology and medical science that has captivated a fair amount of researchers – for better or for worse. Apart from a range of blood-borne diseases and nefarious health issues – not to mention the fact that you’re eating another human being – cannibalism is a practice with a well-earned negative reputation.